Since civil war in Syria began five years ago, half the country's population—more than eleven million people—have been displaced or killed. This week, pro-Assad forces, backed by military support from Russia and Iran, retook the city of Aleppo. There were at least 50,000 civilians remaining in the city, and they have been subjected to intense airstrikes and executions. Here's what we're reading to learn more:
"Despite its significance in the trajectory of the conflict, the control of Aleppo by regime-aligned forces will neither bring about an end to the violence.
Not only does the celebration of the recapture as a 'victory' signal moral and political ineptitude and bankruptcy, but it also ignores that the conditions for continued violence and insecurity—which are multiple—will persist throughout the country.
There is thus no serious way in which we can declare victory for one side or another after Aleppo unless we define victory as wins and losses on the battlefield."
Navigating war: Has the war in Syria also destroyed journalism? by Ramzy Baround via Polices for the People blog
"While the coverage of war in the past has given rise to many daring journalists—Seymour Hersh in Vietnam, Tariq Ayyoub in Iraq, photo-journalist Zoriah Miller, and hundreds more—the war in Syria is destroying journalistic integrity and, with it, our readers' ability to decipher one of the most convoluted conflicts of the modern era.
In Syria, as in Iraq and other warring regions in the Middle East, the 'truth' is not shaped by facts, but opinions, themselves fashioned by blind allegiances, not truly humanistic principles or even simple common sense."
Message from Aleppo: 'Tomorrow will be too late for us' by Bilal Abdul Kareem via Al Jazeera
"The Syrian government opened a corridor for people to turn themselves in. Perhaps 50,000 to 60,000 did hand themselves over. But people are still flooding into our remaining enclave as the government pushes forward. Local civilians prefer to face bombs and harsh conditions rather than disappearance.
The fact that the Syrian army has already killed half a million of their own people is a big deterrent."
The debate over Syria has reached a dead end by Bassam Haddad via The Nation
"One, it seems, is not allowed to be critical of the opposition from a vehemently anti-regime perspective. Equally, one cannot be for the opposition without being lumped into what is variously branded as the 'pro-Western imperialist,' the 'pro-Zionist,' or the 'pro-jihadist' camp (or all three at once, despite the contradictions). The chief irony, however, is that we all pretend to be speaking on behalf of nearly all Syrians, when in reality most Syrians—those who labor day and night to keep their communities functioning—are far more nuanced than either of these two camps."
In Yemen, the war goes on and on and on... by Helen Lackner via Open Democracy
Just hundreds of miles from Aleppo, people in Yemen have been devastated by military attacks, with thousands killed and now an estimated 20 million at risk of mass starvation. "It has been demonstrated internationally that most famines are not due to actual shortage of food but to poverty, otherwise known as lack of cash, to purchase it. However, in this case, absolute shortage is the prospect."
"What We’re Reading" is a weekly feature on AFSC’s News and Commentary blog, where we share a curated collection of recent articles on timely issues. "What We're Reading" is meant to spark discussion, debate, and knowledge sharing, and the articles we highlight do not necessarily reflect the official organizational positions of AFSC. We encourage you to tell us what you're reading on these issues in the comments below.